In this paper, the author examines how realistic is the portrayal of Perveen Mistry as India’s first female lawyer, drawing comparisons with Cornelia Sorabji and Mithan Lam’s lives and the lived experiences of women lawyers today.
Shivangi Gangwar, Associate Professor, Jindal Global Law School, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.
Sujata Massey’s lawyer-detective heroine Perveen Mistry is based on the real-life Cornelia Sorabji and Mithan Lam, the first female Indian lawyers. Over the course of three published novels, Mistry is shown as a true hero with agency over her life, one who investigates, gets into trouble, and ultimately solves cases, albeit with a little help from others.
While there has been some representation of women legal professionals in Indian movies or series, the Perveen Mistry series marks the first such depiction in print. Since Mistry is based on real female lawyers, Massey has remained true to the historical realities of pre-Independence India.
In this paper, I will examine how realistic is the portrayal of Perveen Mistry as India’s first female lawyer, drawing comparisons with Sorabji’s and Lam’s lives and the lived experiences of women lawyers today. I will also undertake a close textual reading of the novels to attempt a socio-political analysis of the three books’ plots and their role in making or breaking the female lead character. Emphasis will be placed on the interconnected themes of gender, religion, time, and law.
Published in: International Journal of the Legal Profession
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